Tab Hunter, Hollywood heartthrob of the 1950s and 60s, reportedly died at his Santa Barbara home on Sunday night of a heart attack caused by a blood clot. He was 86.
Born on June 11, 1931, in New York, Hunter made his Hollywood debut with a small role in Frank O Brein’s The Lawless (1950). The actor starred in more than 40 films in the Golden Era of Hollywood, including Battle Cry (1955), The Sea Chase (1955) and Damn Yankees! (1958). He also recorded a few hit pop songs in the 50s, including Young Love and Ninety-Nine Ways. By the 1970s, his career declined, before a brief revival in the subsequent decade.
Before he joined the film industry, Hunter enlisted in the US Coast Guard at 15, after lying about his age. He was discharged from the maritime service after it was learnt that he was underage.
In 2005, he released the memoir Tab Hunter Confidential: The Making of a Movie Star, in which he revealed that he was gay, confirming speculations that had been doing the rounds for years. The ’90s were a time when homosexuality could be career-ending for stars and Hunter explained how, to keep his sexuality under wraps, major Hollywood studios had manufactured rumours of him dating his leading female co-stars, including Debbie Reynolds and Natalie Wood. He also disclosed his long-term relationships with Psycho actor Anthony Perkins and figure skater Ronnie Robertson, among others.
In 2015, the memoir was adapted into a documentary, produced by his long-time partner Allan Glaser. In June, it was announced that Paramount would produce a film based on Hunter and Perkins’ secret romance, with Zachary Quinto as director.